Sometimes people thirsty for God’s mercy impede its flow. So instead of an outpour, they receive just a few drops.
Worse yet, they then believe a trickle is all God has or wants to give.
Years ago, I came to an accountability partner to come clean about looking at pornography. He recommended we go to God together and that I confess to God what I’d done. As we prayed, I told Jesus how I’d been stressed recently and that I should have come to Him with my stress instead of running to sin; I told him I was sorry and that I really wanted to do better.
I was pouring my heart out when my friend interrupted: “Josh, stop. Just tell Jesus what you did.”
As heartfelt as my prayer was, I was slipping into a subtle trap. Instead of honestly confessing, I was trying to give God reasons to forgive me.
Do you see the trap? Mercy, by definition, cannot be earned. The more you’re worthy of it, the less you get. The same is true of grace. In fact, the same is true of any gift. A gift isn’t a gift if you’ve earned it, it’s a wage.
My accountability partner helped me cut out the fluff and instead, plainly confess what I’d done—without commentary, explanation, self-justification, or self-recrimination.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
If you’re in need of mercy, find a godly friend, mentor, pastor or priest and pray a simple prayer like this:
“Jesus, I confess I [name the sins you’ve committed]. I don’t deserve anything from you. Would you have mercy on me?”
He will. Thank God.
I’d love your input! What are other subtle ways we try to earn from God what can only be received as gift? What helps you recognize when you are trying to earn from God or others what can only be received as gift? Please leave a comment below!